For once, my lack of posting isn’t emotional-meltdown-crisis inspired… It’s purely just a dearth of time, energy, and… well.. time.
My work schedule is retarded. And I don’t mean run-of-the-mill semi-retail-oriented retarded. I mean all of that plus not having a department manager for the next two months, so my “schedule” is being run by an assistant manager and a store manager that a) know nothing about my department’s functions b) have never worked in an actual construction environment (i.e. set foot on a jobsite) and c) are being pulled in three different directions because there are three of us in the department that are lackey-level and each of us has different priorities when it comes to shifts/days off/vacations.
We have reached levels of retardation never before experienced, even in a retail-ish environment.
For three weeks now, I have literally had to rearrange my life daily because my “posted” schedule has changed every single day.
Between the rearranging and the changing and the bitching and moaning about said rearranging, I haven’t had even the slightest sliver of time in which to write. Which was okay for a while – I was going through a kind of internet burnout, I think, and the forced vacation feels like it’s been good for me.
But now I miss it.
In addition to missing writing, I’m missing living my life. My schedule works on a six-day-a-week rotation; from 7AM to 7PM, Monday through Saturday, we have to cover our office and department. Some days I work 7-4, some days 10-7, some days 8-5. I’m off every other weekend (or rather, I’m supposed to be), but then the following week I work six days straight because our workweek starts on Saturday.
Rhett, as it happens, works nights, Sunday through Friday, with a 12 hour day average.
All that means that Rhett and I are never home at the same time. I’m only home at the same time as Sharkman on average two days a week, and at least once a week (usually twice) I either miss his whole practice or more than half of it. On top of that, it also means that, every other weekend, I miss at least half, if not all, of his football game. I’ve never missed out on so much of his stuff in his life. It also means that my few waking hours at home are devoted to feeding the kid, making sure he is bathed and that his homework is done (mostly) on time, making sure we all have clean underwear and socks, and trying to keep some semblance of precarious control over the basic housework generated by four dogs, a cat, a hamster, and three human beings sharing four walls and a roof.
It’s really started to suck. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if they’d actually post my schedule two weeks at a time and then stick to it… but that hasn’t happened even one week since I started. I have not, once, worked a posted schedule. At first because my department manager changed it every time; now because the store manager does.
In my manager’s absence, there’s been some interesting work politics going on as well. It’s starting to look like those-who-what-am-in-charge would really like me to take over her job… But I’m not eligible for it according to corporate policy until mid-January. My schedule might be less stupid and unpredictable if I were actually writing it, which is one of the position’s responsibilities, but there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen. There’s the whole she’s-out-on-maternity-leave-and-therefore-unfireable for one thing; the fact that she’s been with the company for seven years for another.
So I did exactly what my Pops told me to do. I realized that I’d rather take an ass-whipping than go to work, so I started looking for another job.
And I’ve found one.
Our little podunk town is desperate for substitute teachers. I’m taking the orientation on Tuesday, complete with background checks, and should be eligible to begin working two weeks later. According to my sources in the know, there’s enough substitute work around here to keep me busy five days a week.
Between the two, pay-wise, I’d break about even. I’m not making a whole lot at my current position, so my take-home wouldn’t change a lot as long as I could work four days a week. The only real difference would be that in my current job, I have health coverage for all three of us, and I’m not sure that would be true as a sub. Rhett just got a raise, too, which makes up the difference in money but not in insurance. I can put Sharkman on the state kid’s plan, and if we get started on Baby #2 I can get covered the same way.
The only real differences are in the “what-ifs.” As a substitute, I don’t get paid for the days off over Thanksgiving, or Christmas break. If there aren’t any teachers out, I don’t work. If they have too many subs, I don’t work. I may not have access to health insurance. The managers where I am now may decide to try to waive corporate policy and promote me, which offers more money. But that’s not a guarantee, and if I do start substituting, I would have enough spare time to either a) try to pick up a couple of bookkeeping clients on the side again or b) actually get into breeding my Lab which we happened to buy with that specifically in mind as an extra-money-maker.
So on the one hand, I have a job that I like okay except on the three days out of six that I fucking hate it. The schedule completely prevents me from taking care of my family the way I want to, but we’re all fed and clothed and housed and alive. We have good health insurance, and dental, and vision, as long as I work there. I like the work that I do, just not the environment that I do it in.
On the other hand, I have a potential job that does give me a set schedule, where I can work around my family a lot more. The money is theoretically less, but only in terms of the benefits, and even that is up in the air. The timing would allow me to make up the difference if I wanted to (and thank God I don’t have to; Rhett makes enough now to support us. My check is just gravy/play money/savings.).
I don’t know. When I lay it out like that, it seems like a no-brainer to take the substitute position and not look back. Part of my hesitation, I guess, is that I’m so used to being financially responsible for everything that leaving a job that is as secure as my current one in terms of money, benefits, all of it feels really, really risky.
But I hate it.
I really, really hate the scheduling. And that’s the one thing about the job that I cannot change. It’s a national policy that we are open when we are open, and that the rotations work the way they work, and that I have to close x number of days a week and open x number of days a week and am only guaranteed one weekend off a month. I hate that I will not be home with my son for five of the seven days of his winter break that are mine. I hate that I can’t plan a family dinner for a Saturday evening on Rhett’s only day off because I won’t be home for at least two of those four Saturdays a month. I hate that I don’t have the energy to write because some days I work until 7 at night, only to have to be back at work at 7 the next morning.
I feel like a total sissy, because millions of people work even worse retail schedules than mine and seem to manage to have a perfectly normal home life. But then I remember that most of the two-person households at my workplace only have one adult with a stupid retail schedule. The other adult works a normal 8-5 gig. Ours doesn’t run that way. My beloved husband is a truck driver who works a local driving shift that takes 72 hours a week.
It just is what it is. I wouldn’t have been able to work a schedule like this when Rhett was over the road. And while he may not be over the road now, he’s gone more than he’s home, and our family needs someone running the show here.
It’s hard for me to trust my instincts on this, but the more I think about it, the more it feels like the right thing to do is to put my family (and my sanity) first. Which means turning in my two weeks’ notice and taking up the substitute gig. I’m grateful that even in a place like this, where basic survival is such a struggle, that at least I have some options. And we may never get rich, living on half a teacher’s salary and a truck driver’s take home, but I’m 98% positive that all of our quality of life would improve if I were home more, or at least more consistently.
I have to silence the little voice in my head that keeps telling me that I’m just being a baby and should shut up and figure it out where I’m at. I have to find a way to make peace with the baggage that tells me that I’m being selfish by dumping the rest of our financial wellbeing on Rhett so that I can be a half-time homemaker again. (There’s no way in hell I’m going to just quit working and stay home to eat bonbons. Do you remember what last fall was like? Yeah… nothankyouveryfuckingmuch.) He has no problem with this; I shouldn’t either.
I think I’m going to do this. I think I’ll be happier, which means that Rhett will be happier, which means that Sharkman will be happier. Because as my boys will tell you, if Momma’s not happy, run.